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10.21.2021

CLUB OWNERS OPEN UP FOR THE FIRST TIME ON TELEVISION ABOUT THE DEADLY RHODE ISLAND FIRE THAT KILLED 100 PEOPLE, IN “48 HOURS: THE STATION NIGHTCLUB FIRE: WHO’S RESPONSIBLE?”

Saturday, Oct. 23, 10:00 PM

(L-R) Michael and Jeffrey Derderian; Linda Saran

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On Feb. 20, 2003, hundreds of people packed The Station, a nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., for a night of music and fun. The night ended in tragedy when fire tore through the club, leaving 100 dead and more than 200 injured. Now, for the first time on television, the club owners open up about the fire, in 48 HOURS: “The Station Nightclub Fire: Who’s Responsible?” to be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 23 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network and streaming on Paramount+.

Reported by correspondent Jim Axelrod, the hour explores what led up to the fire and the aftermath, and includes first-person accounts from survivors who thought they were out for a good time only to find their lives changed forever. Axelrod and 48 HOURS also reveal new information that may help explain what led to the disaster and caused one of the deadliest nightclub fires in U.S. history.

We went out on a Thursday night to listen to music, drink some beers and have a good time. And a quarter of those people didn’t get to go home – ever,” says survivor Linda Saran, who was severely burned.

This is what I live with. I don’t hide it. … Second and third-degree burns, over 34 percent of my body from the heat… I’m lucky I even have arms,” Saran says.

The fire began when the band Jack Russell’s Great White took the stage and their tour manager set off four large fireworks. Flames soon appeared on the walls on either side of the stage and spread quickly along the foam that lined the walls and ceiling, intended to dampen sound.

Brothers Jeff and Michael Derderian owned the club. Nine months after the fire, the brothers, along with Daniel Biechele, Great White’s tour manager, were each charged with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Biechele pleaded guilty, and Michael and Jeff Derderian pleaded no contest. Biechele and Michael Derderian went to prison.

We never knew the whole story because the trial never happened, so everything really never came out,” says Jody King, whose brother Tracy died in the fire.

Now, Jeff and Michael Derderian say they want to set the record straight – and reveal new information about that foam and accountability. They say a critical piece of evidence was never presented to the grand jury.

We wanted the full story to come out, not just some of it, and for people who want to … come to their own conclusion on what happened that night,” says Jeff Derderian.

Former Rhode Island attorney general Patrick Lynch led the investigation into the fire. “I don’t think anybody, in anything that they did, wanted anybody to die that night or get injured,” he said. “But does that mean it’s not a crime? The answer is no.” To this day Lynch stands by his initial findings and disagrees with the brothers’ decision to come forward now.

Some survivors of the fire feel the brothers have never accepted responsibility for the fire.

Taking responsibility for your actions goes a long way,” says Saran.

We say that … we’re sorry for all of it,” says Michael Derderian. “And if we could change it, we would.”

You know a day doesn’t go by that we don’t think about it in some way, shape or form,” says Jeff Derderian. “So to the people who think we don’t own it, I’m telling you, we do own it, okay?”

48 HOURS: “The Station Nightclub Fire: Who’s Responsible?” is produced by Betsy Shuller and Chris Young Ritzen. Marc Goldbaum is the development producer. Doreen Schechter and Gary Winter are the editors. Kat Teurfs is the associate producer. Lourdes Aguiar is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.

48 HOURS is broadcast Saturdays at 10:00 PM, ET/PT, on CBS and streams on Paramount+. Follow 48 HOURS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Listen to podcasts at CBSAudio. Stream 48 HOURS on Paramount+.

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Press Contact:

Richard Huff

 

huffr@cbsnews.com